A Coaching Power Tool created by Allison Sharpe
(Life and Relationship Coaching,UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
We’re born with a clean slate of a mind. Through the years we start to collect preferences, ideas, opinions, to-do lists, issues and problems. Somewhere along our life journey we may reach a breaking point where we feel our brain is about to burst with too much stuff.
This is what we can refer to as Status:
Mind FULL! Through a process of sorting and simplifying we can go from brain overload to mindful peace and ultimately a life of enjoyment.
mind [mahynd] ah!
the totality of conscious and unconscious mental processes and activities. attention; thoughts.
mind·ful [mahynd-fuh-l] ahhhhh….
attentive, aware, or careful (usually followed by of ): mindful of one’s surroundings.
mind·FULL [mahynd-fuh-ll] AHHHHH!!!!
mental processes that have reached ineffective capacity.
What’s the difference?
Mind FULL is messy, sad, overwhelming, unproductive, not good. Mindful on the other hand is calm, and nice – like eating a warm chocolate chip cookie.
Mind FULL is future focused whereas being mindful is ‘now’ focused. Mind FULL adds two items to your to-do list for each one you check off. Mindfulness lets you enjoy one moment, task or event at a time.
Leonard and Penny – a night out
Penny has had a busy, frustrating day at work and starts complaining just as soon as Leonard picks her up. Outside Leonard suggests walking the few blocks to the restaurant to enjoy the summer air. Penny looks at him, rolls her eyes and says “fine” as she continues ranting about her co-workers. Leonard smiles, walking leisurely along feeling the cool breeze on his face. He notices the way the soft wind catches Penny’s hair moving it away from her face as she stomps along the sidewalk. He gently grabs her hand and for a second she stops talking. She looks annoyed because of the interruption but then continues on about some rude customer who left her a $.50 tip. Leonard holds onto her hand as they walk and lightly caresses her fingers. He enjoys how soft her hands are and how nicely their fingers fit together.
In just a few minutes they arrive at the Italian Bistro and are seated at what Leonard finds to be a warm, cozy spot in the corner. Fifteen minutes later Penny huffs a big sigh and says,
Oh well, what can you do right? So how was your day Leonard?
Leonard takes an unhurried breath then proceeds to tell Penny he had a bad day also.
He explains in just a few words that he had to take a pay cut to keep his department going. Penny says,
Oh my gosh Leonard, why didn’t you say something sooner?
That news is already in the past. Right now I’m enjoying you, in this moment….right now.
Penny looks a little frazzled, takes a sip of water then notices how refreshing the lemon in her water tastes. She puts her hand on Leonard’s hand and says,
You’re right. My bad day was really just a few irritating hours. Let’s focus on what’s happening now.
She smiles, then notices just how lovely the twinkle lights look around the restaurant and the distinctively pleasant aroma of garlic and tomato sauce.
From this story we can see the distinction between being mindful and having a mind FULL of junk. Clearly when Penny clocked out from her job, she packed a small suitcase of stuff and carried it home. When Leonard picked her up for their date, she tried to hand him the suitcase but he instead chose to let her carry it. Eventually that suitcase felt heavier and heavier until they arrived at the restaurant. Once Penny realized the suitcase didn’t hold anything of value she was able to put it behind her and hopefully not pick it up again.
When you think about it as a tangible item it helps to see how silly it is to carry around a suitcase of garbage. Especially when you can instead hold the hand of a loved one, embrace a friend, or simply relax without the added weight of luggage.
We ain’t going nowhere but got suits and cases
Kanye West – Jesus Walks
You may be asking yourself, “Why is a full mind bad?” Generally someone with a lot on their plate is praised for having it ‘all together.’ The always on-the-go busybody is seen as a person of talent, a dynamo, or a high achiever but is that the truth? If we could hover quietly over the busybody for a day what would we see? True accomplishment, or empty tasks? If the latter, discontentment stirs inside causing the busybody to want to fill himself with more to do or think about, causing more chaos in his mind.
If this is an unhealthy practice then why do we continue on this path? The answers are fear, unawareness, and doubt.
In its most basic form fear is only an illusion. It is not a real thing but a feeling or thought. If we believe that to stop and ‘smell the roses’ is to miss out on something greater, we are fearing the loss of an unknown. There is no way to know what we may or may not miss but because we think there might be something more we forego the present which is a sure thing. The sure thing dulls in comparison to what might be so we strive in vain.
On the flip side, when we stop and smell the roses we delight our sense of smell. We reach out to touch the smooth petals and our gaze increases to look past these few flowers to a whole world of beautiful things. We think, “Huh, has the sun been shining like this all day?” and we notice the people around us and say, “Hello.” The vast array of senses leads to increased happiness and sets us in a state of gratitude. This all coming from the present moment, which is actual and real.
For those unfamiliar with self-awareness, mindfulness is a foreign concept. Those unaware to mindfulness might say, “Is that some sort of buddha thing?” or “I’m not good at meditating.” They have not a clue because it’s just not part of their programming. Those in this category can have the greatest awakening when they realize this state of being is available at any moment.
The third category of full minded folks knows mindfulness is out there, but they believe they can’t have it. It’s for someone else who isn’t as busy as they are. A prime example comes from the Bible in Luke 10:38-42.
Martha and Mary
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
Martha, Martha, the Lord answered,
you are worried and upset about many things,but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.
I sympathize with Martha as she just wants things to be perfect for their guests. It’s really annoying when what began as a partner plan becomes a one-woman show. Like seriously, “I have to do everything around here while you just sit around?” But notice the words ‘have to.’ Does Martha really ‘have to’ focus on the preparations or does she ‘want to?’ Now in those times there were cultural and religious rituals that were required so I’m not taking that away from Martha but in a state of awareness Mary took her cue from Jesus, the guest of honor.
It’s easy to start blaming in a busy environment but in a mindful state we can choose clearly what is better in that given moment. This may not be an easy task when neurosis sets in and we believe lies like ‘this has to be perfect or they will be disappointed in me.’ Many times these are subconscious lies which is why the practice of self-awareness is so important.
If you hear yourself saying any of the the things below, it’s a good indication it’s time to reevaluate your life and possibly enlist the help of a coach:
I can’t stop and enjoy this, I’m too busy
So-n-so is doing more than I am so I have to catch up
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
I tried to relax before and it didn’t work
I feel anxious when I’m not busy
People will think I’m lazy
Notice the chain of negativity in these phrases. These are the stories you’ve been telling yourself for a long time. Now is a good time to rewrite your story the way you want it!
A client may not even know what’s wrong with him, but can only tell you his symptoms. He feels a sense of overwhelm, unfulfillment, depression, failure. He keeps trying and never gets anywhere. He has a lot of stuff he thought he wanted but now it’s just old and dusty. He can’t figure out how he got here or how he can get to his happy destination. This is where the coaching application begins, setting the destination point to now – Live Center (as opposed to dead center).
At Live Center he isn’t adding new things to his list (e.g. +1, +2, +3, etc.) which is future focused. Live Center also doesn’t look backwards at what should have happened which takes away from mindfulness (e.g. -1, -2, -3, etc.)
Once we settle our client into Live Center we guide him through a three step action plan.
Sort – Simplify – Love
Getting to Live Center
Part one: Stop the pattern. Create an activation station to set off a spark of awareness.
Example 1: Each time you put something in your calendar let the act of typing or writing spark your mind to ask is this a mind FULL item or is this something I can let fall off my plate.
Example 2: Each time you sit down at a restaurant let opening the menu be your spark to stop the mind FULL talk and start the mindful experience with your dining partner.
Example 3: Download a mindfulness mobile app like The Now. This apps pops up reminders at different daily intervals with mindfulness quotes.
Part two: For the coach this step is all about creating awareness through active listening and thoughtful questioning. The idea of resting at Live Center can be a scary thought. It asks him to have faith that by letting go of all him stuff he is really gaining command of his life.
Mind FULL is sometimes generated out of the need to feel in control. To change the perspective it’s important to sort out everything in his life so he can see it all in one place. A good way to do this is with a brain dump.
Start with a large sheet of paper and have the client write out everything he can think of that affects him life; tangible and intangible. Encourage him to keep each item to words and short phrases so the paper doesn’t feel unmanageable at the end.
From there have him sort everything on the page into categories. You can use broad categories like: Relationships, Work, Money, Health, Home, Spirit, etc. as these will be broken down further in the Simplification stage.
Sorting creates the awareness necessary to see what matters and what doesn’t. It also helps distinguish which items on the list are a reality and which items are made up in his mind.
The simplification stage can be the most agonizing as it requires the client to challenge deep seated ideas, values, perspectives, and patterns. This is where the client gets to decide what makes it past the gatekeeper of the mind and what gets tossed to the side. Some frequent thought bullies may be persistent in getting in but as mindfulness becomes the focus, the old way of thinking is repelled.
For the coach it’s all about helping the client break down each area to its simplest form. Similar to an episode of Hoarders, there may be resistance to letting go of old patterns even when these patterns are detrimental to the growth of the client. Once he starts to see the most beloved items rise to the top it starts to become easier to let go of all the surrounding fluff.
Have the client go through his sorted list as quickly as possible and intuitively cross off anything that is unnecessary, unreal or undeserving of the mind space. What remains is what needs to be simplified further. This is where the coach helps support the client by digging deeper into why each item is on the list and which ones are only there because he thinks it should be, because someone else is dictating it, or any other reason that doesn’t serve the client.
A strong coaching presence is vital to keep the client focused on staying in the moment and only choosing what is real and good. Compassionate accountability and consistent follow through will assist the client in achieving his goals.
The final and most thrilling stage is of Love. This is the part the client has been wanting yet can be difficult to embrace. The love stage asks the client to enjoy everything he does or has. From the simplification stage he should be able to question himself in a way that drills down what’s most important in any circumstance. Some things aren’t pleasant but necessary in daily living. A good coaching question would be, “How can you make this fun or enjoyable?” Then open up the space for the client to explore what makes him happy and how he can apply it to the given item or situation. The Love stage is lifelong and the client is in a constant state of learning how to make love the focus.
Meaning doesn’t lie in things. Meaning lies in us.
When we attach value to things that aren’t love
– the money, the car, the house, the prestige –
we are loving things that can’t love us back.
We are searching for meaning in the meaningless.
Marianne Williamson – A Return to Love
Advanced: Move from your mindfulness, to the needs of others. This is where the love and enjoyment inside is projected onto others. This in turn cycles back to you as more love.
- Think about your perception of having a full mind. Do those thoughts invoke positivity or negativity?
- What will you do if your client insists having a full mind is an asset?
- When was the last time you were truly mindful of your surroundings?
- What is one action you could take when you feel your mind starting to fill up?
- How will you practice mindfulness?
van Bilsen, H. (Author). (2009). Mindfulness [Cartoon], Retrieved April 13, 2013, from: http://www.socksofdoom.com/
West, K. (2004). Jesus Walks [Kanye West]. The College Dropout [CD]. New York: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam. (1999-2002)
Williamson, M. (1992). A Return to Love. New York, NY: HarperCollins.